Monday, September 13, 2004

No reservations about this Dalit couple’s merit

AHMEDABAD, SEPTEMBER 12: Amid all the clamour for job reservation in the private sector, a Dalit couple has proved their point by clearing an exam for government jobs in the general category.

Prakash Majumdar and his wife Sujata Solanki, who learnt on Wednesday that they have passed the Gujarat Public Service Commission examination, said they wanted to prove that Dalits can make it to the top even without reservation.

‘‘We had decided from the beginning we would not mention in the application forms that we belonged to the Scheduled Castes,’’ says Prakash.

And prove they did: Sujata ranked 39th, and hopes would be made a Deputy Superintendent of Police; Prakash came 110th, and hopes for a section officer’s post.

Sujata says Prakash was her inspiration. ‘‘He was supporting and provided guidance, having trained for GPSC exams at the Sardar Patel Institute for Public Administration.’’ About ranking well ahead of her husband, she says, ‘‘Prakash had his job at the Employee State Insurance Corporation. That cut into his studies.’’

And Prakash adds, ‘‘The GPSC exam is in Gujarati, in which Sujata is stronger, having studied in Gujarati medium.’’ Both belong to middle-class families in Ahmedabad. The couple now awaits their postings.

Source: The Indian Express, September 13, 2004

The title reads, No reservations about this Dalit couple’s merit. Alas, we can't say the same about most of the upper caste people who succeed for they owe much of their success to their upper caste lineage and the prestige and fortune they thereby inherit at birth. Besides, exceptions don't make the rule! A couple of dalits succeeding without the benefit of reservations cannot be an argument against reservations. The question one should ask is: Do dalits face any discrimination on account of their caste? On an average, is a dalit equally likely to succeed as a brahmin, or is he/she hamstrung by virtue of his low caste? Sure, reservations hardly compensate for the myriad hurdles dalits face. Cast off casteism and reservations, in that order.


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